When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of independence he provided a statement that justified personal freedom at a time in which governments were seen to grant freedom of speech to its citizens. His amazing document, in which he channeled John Locke, said freedom was an inherent right.
Democracy is a messy concept. Other governments seek to restrain the ability of people to communicate freely, but America and a few other countries believe it is a crucial right. At the moment, the speech of a certain group is undermining confidence in America. However, even though democracy has its downside, overall what Americans experience is enough freedom to say what they think and determine how they should vote.
Our biggest competitor, China, does not value free speech. In the New York Times yesterday, the paper revealed the government is setting strict rules about micro-blogging, the vehicle in which ordinary Chinese (lao bai xing) learned what really happened in a high-speed train wreck. Since China has invested a large amount of money in high-speed trains, it was something people needed to know.
They are also limiting entertainment programs on regional stations to two 90 min. entertainment programs a week. I guess in China having too much fun is a threat to national stability. The new, tech savvy Chinese are going to live in a different world.
For many reasons, I have a strong positive feeling for Chinese all over the world. My trips to China have been life changing experiences. I have experienced wonderful hospitality (re qing) and been able to have close relationships with many fine people. These people have gotten used to a modicum of freedom that will now be taken away. I'm experiencing extreme sadness about the world they'll be living in.
Thank God I'm an American.